It is a funny thing: life.

From the outside looking in, people can view your life in such a different way than you experience it.

People make assumptions about you: who you are, what you are capable of and how you are living it. But only you know yourself, your circumstances and the choices you have made in your life. Only you know the reason why you are where you are today.

Experience is the key to unlocking the secrets of you. Some experiences are positive and push you forward to your destiny. Others are extremely negative and drive you in a different direction. Even if you share those experiences with other people, they will never really understand you, because they can only understand what you are telling them within the context of their own experiences.

You may hear the phrase “I understand where you are coming from.” You may even have said it yourself to other people.

But although this phrase shows an attempt at empathy or understanding of a particular situation, it is not a truth. No one can ever truly “understand where you are coming from”. Being aware of this comes at a price though.

For some people, this phrase elicits an “irrational” anger at the empathiser: “How can you say that? You don’t know what I have been through.”

For others it shuts them down, as they feel they have nothing further to say to that particular person. It can lead them to clam up and bottle things up.

For the lucky ones, it can aid a healing process and allow them to feel less “alone” in a difficult situation.

Sometimes, a situation can elicit a different response depending on whom they are sharing with.

Our experiences in life define us to some degree. We can choose to ignore an experience that makes us feel uncomfortable about what we have become or the direction our life is headed. Some experiences can push us into a different direction, but with positive outcomes.

Sometimes we can look back on our lives and wonder where it all went wrong, and ignoring the hopes and possibilities that our experiences have opened up for us. It takes a certain inner strength to embrace the changes in our life paths and to redefine who we believe we are.

Sometimes our experiences cause us to dislike or even hate or despise ourselves. We seek love and acceptance from the world around us, instead of learning to love the “new” us. We may see ourselves as a failure, or fat, or disabled, or ugly or stupid, instead of seeing ourselves as people who have survived the odds and come out the other side.  

We fail to understand that we need to love who we are now, before we can expect anyone else to love us.

Following a major trauma, our bodies or health or life direction may dramatically change. This is when we have to grieve the loss of the “old” us, and learn to like and love the “new” us. This is a process that can take many years, if it happens at all.

We need to ask the people in our lives to give us the chance to accept our loss of “self” and help us to learn to like and love our rebirth. We may go through periods of depression and morose. This is when we truly need the support of our loved ones, and perhaps even counselling. But it is a necessary part of moving forward and having the hope for a better future.

Once you begin to accept the “new” you possibilities open up. You may discover a hidden talent or a subject that fascinates you. You may re-educate yourself in a different area and give yourself new skills. You may discover that your experiences can inspire other people and motivate them in new directions. You may learn that you have inner strengths and depths you never believed were capable.

Your body may be broken, and your spirit weakened; but the new love for yourself and your life will heal the breaks in your confidence and allow others to see your potential as well.

It won’t necessarily stop the darkness from crowding your mind at times, but when this does happen, the light at the end of the tunnel can seem a lot closer than before and you will find the strength to pull yourself out.

We can’t stop life from dishing up experiences to us. But this is a positive thing. Most employers want people with experience in their field. There is no field that affects everyone more universally than the field of life. You certainly have a role to play in life; so it is just a matter of loving yourself, finding and accepting your strengths and embracing life with all your might.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but when you have seen your achievements, no matter how small, you realise it was worth it.


    I am no psychologist and do not profess to be one. This article is a reflection on my life and maybe it may just help someone else.


    July 2012